Healthy Berry Streusel Bars

These easy healthy berry streusel bars combine two layers of almond oat streusel and one thick layer of berry filling. They’re made with wholesome ingredients like oats, almond butter, applesauce, berries, and maple syrup. By skipping the butter, egg, and other dairy ingredients, these dessert bars are vegan. If using certified gluten free oats, they’re gluten free as well! Use your favorite berries like blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries.

stack of healthy berry streusel oat bars

I’ve had this recipe published on my website for years. I recently made 2 slight adjustments: the bars are now vegan and by pulsing the oats into a finer cut, they hold their shape MUCH better. They’re flavored with almond, cinnamon, maple syrup, and have plenty of berries in each bite.

Here Why You’ll Love Them

  • Two layers of cinnamon almond oat streusel
  • Thick and juicy berry filling
  • Only a handful of easy healthy ingredients
  • Naturally vegan, but you can use an egg if needed
  • No butter, white flour, or refined sugar
  • Gluten free if using certified GF oats

Plus, they freeze easily AND they’re adult and toddler approved. They remind me of these breakfast cookies, which are equally easy and healthful. (Another favorite!)

healthy berry oat streusel bars

Two Parts to Healthy Berry Streusel Bars

  1. Berry Filling: This is a thick and juicy berry filling– it’s essentially a super chunky homemade jam. You need mixed berries, cornstarch, water, pure maple syrup, and 1 Tablespoon of coconut sugar. If you don’t have coconut sugar, you can sub in white granulated or brown sugar. You need a dry sugar to help soak up some moisture. The cornstarch and water mixture thickens the filling while the pure maple syrup is an unrefined sweetener.
  2. Crust & Streusel: What I find most convenient (and I know you will too) is that the crust and streusel are made from the same mixture. Use most of it for the crust, then sprinkle the rest on top of the berry filling before baking. For this mixture you need: oats, cinnamon, almond butter, pure maple syrup, applesauce, and coconut oil. So the bars remain compact and hold their shape, pulse the oats in a food processor or blender first. I know what you’re thinking: can’t I just use oat flour? Unfortunately, no– it’s too fine! You can use quick oats, though.

Overview & Photos: How to Make Healthy Berry Streusel Bars

Make the berry filling on the stove. It only takes a few minutes. It needs to cool completely before using, so you can make it ahead of time.

healthy mixed berry bars filling

Now let’s make the crust/streusel mixture. Pulsing the oats breaks them up, which helps guarantee the bars will hold their shape. (Very necessary with a juicy filling.) I actually started doing this with my peanut butter trail mix bars and it made all the difference– tight, compact bars!

two photos of almond butter oat streusel mixture

Mix in the rest of the crust/streusel ingredients:

almond butter oat streusel mixture

Press most of it into a lined 9-inch baking pan. Spread cooled berry filling on top. Add some sliced almonds to the rest of the crust/streusel, then sprinkle on top.

Tip: For neat squares, it’s best to let these bars cool completely before slicing.

healthy berry streusel bars before baking

Substitution Ideas

Here are some ingredient substitutions I’ve tested:

  • Oats: Use quick oats or whole oats. If using whole, you’ll need to pulse them. If using quick oats, you can skip the pulsing. I will note, however, the bars hold their shape much better if you pulse the oats first, regardless if you’re using whole or quick oats.
  • Nut Butter: Instead of almond butter, try peanut butter, cashew butter, or sunflower seed butter for a naturally nut-free option.
  • Applesauce: Homemade or store bought applesauce works. Instead of applesauce, try mashed banana or 1 egg. The bars would no longer be vegan if using an egg.
  • Maple Syrup: You can use honey instead of maple syrup, keeping in mind the bars would no longer be vegan.
  • Coconut Oil: You can use melted unsalted or salted butter instead. You need a fat that’s solid at room temperature, so do not replace with an oil that is liquid at room temperature.
  • Berry Filling: You need 2 cups of fresh or frozen berries. You can use a blend of mixed berries or only blueberries, blackberries, or even chopped cherries. Extra juicy berries such as strawberries or raspberries will yield flimsier bars.

healthy berry streusel bars

Are These Healthy?

I say this a lot with the lightened-up recipes I publish, but “healthy” is a relative term. In my eyes, these are perfectly healthy dessert bars. They’re made with whole foods like almond butter and fiber-filled oats, plus there’s no white flour or refined sugar. However, they may be too sugary for someone who needs to watch their sugar intake and they’re obviously not ideal for anyone allergic to nuts.

When it comes to labeling recipes as healthy, use the best judgement for YOU. 🙂

  • I’m unsure of the nutritional information for these, but feel free to calculate it yourself using an online calculator and the exact products/brands you use.
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healthy berry streusel oat bars

Healthy Berry Streusel Bars

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 1 hour (includes berries cooling)
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours (includes cooling)
  • Yield: 12
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

These easy healthy berry streusel bars combine two layers of almond oat streusel and one thick layer of berry filling. These dessert bars are vegan. If using certified gluten free oats, they’re gluten free as well!


Ingredients

Berry Filling

  • 1 and 1/2 Tablespoons (12g) cornstarch
  • 1 and 1/2 Tablespoons (23ml) water
  • 2 cups (about 300g) fresh or frozen mixed berries (do not thaw & see note)
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) pure maple syrup
  • 1 Tablespoon (11g) coconut sugar, brown sugar, or granulated sugar

Crust + Streusel

  • 2 and 1/2 cups (200g) old-fashioned whole rolled oats or quick oats
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup (255g) almond butter
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup (60g) unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) melted coconut oil
  • for topping: 1/2 cup (64g) sliced or chopped almonds and 1 extra Tablespoon oats

Instructions

  1. Berry Filling: Whisk the cornstarch and water together until all the cornstarch has dissolved. (I just use a fork to mix– very easy.) Place the cornstarch mixture, berries, maple syrup, and coconut sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Using a rubber spatula, stir the mixture as it cooks. Smash some of the berries against the bottom/sides of the pot as you stir, gently breaking them up. Bring to a simmer and allow to simmer for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. After 2 minutes, remove pan from the heat and allow to cool completely. The mixture will thicken as it cools. To speed up the cooling process, feel free to cover and refrigerate it after it slightly cools for at least 30 minutes at room temperature. I recommend making the berry filling in advance so it can cool completely. Berry filling can be cold or room temperature when you assemble the bars– you just don’t want it hot or warm.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line the bottom and sides of an 8-inch or 9-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on the sides to lift the bars out (makes cutting easier!). Set aside.
  3. Make the crust/streusel: Pulse the oats in a food processor or blender until they’re slightly broken up. (For whole oats, about 10 pulses. For quick oats, about 5-6 pulses.) Pour into a bowl and stir in the cinnamon, almond butter, maple syrup, applesauce, and melted coconut oil. Mixture will be thick and wet.
  4. Using the back of a flat spatula or a spoon, press about 3/4 of the crust/streusel mixture tightly and firmly down into the pan. Make sure it’s flat and very compact, which helps guarantee the bars will hold their shape. Spread cooled berry filling evenly on top.
  5. For Topping: Mix the sliced almonds into the remaining crust/streusel mixture. Sprinkle all over the top of the berry filling. Sprinkle 1 Tablespoon of oats evenly on top. (Helps soak up some moisture.)
  6. Bake for 27-31 minutes or until the topping is lightly browned. Remove from the oven and place baking pan on a cooling rack. Allow bars to cool completely. After about 1 hour cooling at room temperature, you can place the pan in the refrigerator to help speed the cooling up. Lift the cooled bars out using the parchment paper overhang on the sides. Cut into squares.
  7. Cover and store leftover bars in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Notes

  1. Freezing Instructions: Layer the cooled and cut bars between sheets of parchment in a freezer-friendly bag or container. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator or at room temperature.
  2. Fruits: You need 2 cups of fresh or frozen berries. I typically use 1 cup of blueberries, 1/2 cup of chopped strawberries, and 1/2 cup of raspberries. You can use a blend of mixed berries or only blueberries, blackberries, or even chopped cherries. Extra juicy berries such as strawberries or raspberries will yield flimsier bars. I haven’t tested this recipe with other fruits, but let me know if you try it.
  3. Nut Butter: I recommend using creamy almond butter, but you can use crunchy instead if needed. You can also replace with peanut butter (natural or non-natural), cashew butter, or another nut butter of your choice. Sunflower seed butter is a great nut-free alternative.
  4. Ingredient Questions: I’ve made these bars countless times with all sort of ingredients substitutions. See all successful ingredient substitutions in the blog post above.
  5. Topping: I mix sliced almonds into the topping, but you can use any chopped nut (or sunflower seeds/pepitas) instead. I don’t recommend skipping this addition because it helps bulk up the topping. If you don’t have any nuts, add 1/4 cup (20g) of whole or quick oats to the topping mixture in step 5. No need to pulse them first and no need for that extra 1 Tablespoon of oats.

Keywords: berry streusel bars, healthy bars, vegan

almond butter berry streusel bars

13 Comments

Comments are closed.

  1. Ahh thanks for this recipe Sally! Made these the other day and froze most for future pre workout use 🙂 I subbed homemade date syrup (you should try!) For the maple and used half almond butter half high protein gingerbread pb. So good. Love your healthy recipes just as much as your sugary sweet ones

    1. I have to try homemade date syrup! That sounds delicious Anna. So happy you enjoy my healthier recipes. They’re usually my favorites.

  2. Sally these squares were a bit hit at my dinner party last night! They were so easy to whip up and they were delicious. Thank you for the recipe! I will be making these again next weekend 🙂

  3. I have no cornstarch and can’t make it to the store today. Detrimental to the outcome or can I omit it?

    1. Hi Nikki – you could try flour instead to thicken the berry filling.

  4. I absolutely DO bake right after coming home from vacation. We got in late last night and I woke up early this morning and made a batch of these. There aren’t many people living in this house & already more than half of the pan is gone…. 🙂

  5. These are in the oven right now. Can’t wait to taste them, it already smells delicious!
    I had to make some adjustments as my local supermarket (in the middle of nowhere…) hasn’t got almond butter. I used chestnut purée instead and left out the maple syrup as it was already sweetened. Hope they still turn out well.
    I also made a compot out of yellow plums as those are in season here right now.
    I am so excited! 😀
    Thank you for all those lovely recipes!

  6. I just made these and they were wonderful! Especially served with ice cream or custard 🙂 I’m really only commenting to say that I didn’t have almond butter on hand, so kind of completely improvised and subbed in 1/2 cup of sort of coconut butter (basically a semi-failed attempt at making it because it wasn’t entirely smooth) and 1/4 cup coconut oil, and as far as I can tell, it hasn’t done anything bad to the bars so…

  7. I made these the other day in a muffin pan for individually sized portions and they turned out great! Love your healthy recipes, especially the granolas! Keep em coming!

  8. Made these last weekend! Used PB instead of AB (I’m on a budget…ha) and used half strawberries and half fresh picked blackberries. The best. I love it when a dessert doubles as breakfast the next day (well, most of them do, but at least this one was more guilt-free)!

    Om nom nom.

  9. Love ❤️ Love ❤️ Love all your recipes. I’m going through some serious health issues and waiting on major surgery at UCLA at the end of the summer. I was wondering if you would have any suggestions or ideas for streusel bars or any type of bar that I could use prunes or actually they might be dried plums that you buy in the store in round containers. Lately the skins are so dry that I can’t stand to eat them so try to eat the inside only. I remember when I was young my mom made some type of bars and told me not to eat too many or I’d end up in the bathroom and I didn’t understand because I was so young lol. All I knew was they tasted great. I just can’t find any recipe and I’m desperate and drinking milk of magnesia is unhealthy daily. Would so appreciate it if you had any idea of a recipe or how to make/soften or cook them into bars. Like them to be still sweet and pleasant tasting. Thanks so much. My email is below or I guess I can try to watch on this post.

  10. Sally Francklyn says:

    Can you use cashew butter instead of almond butter?

    1. Definitely!

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